By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement
This is a slight departure for this regular blog series, but as it pertains to street history, I’ve lumped it with other blog posts about street histories.
As one does (or, perhaps, as one with a huge interest in local history does), I was going through Oshawa’s historical newspapers, and an article from the Oshawa Vindicator on October 14, 1868 caught my eye. An article entitled ‘Our Taxes and Where they Go,’ makes note that the labour costs were estimated at $1400, which “includes all that spent on opening new streets, new drains, repairing and constructing sidewalks, etc.”
The article continues,
The amount of work in this department (labour) has been very large. It includes the opening of Lloyd, Monck, and McGregor and the continuation of Centre streets on the McGregor property; the opening of Maple, Elm, and Pine, between Simcoe and Celina Streets, Elgin, Louisa, Brock East and West, Colborne West, and a large amount of work on Princess street in the north half of the village. Also the grading, filling up and gravelling of Simcoe street, and the work done on the sidewalks.
When researching the origins of street names in our city, I’ll try to, if possible, find a best estimate for when the street would have been created and/or lived on. City directories from the 20th century can be very helpful for that – one year there is no street, but then the next year, the street has inhabitants. Many of the streets in downtown, however, can be trickier to ballpark. This article was an interesting read as it confirms that many of the above streets, like Monck, McGregor, Brock, and Louisa, can be dated to the late 1860s.
While the above is simply an expansion on how village funds and taxpayer’s money was being spent, it is of note that it also demonstrates the village’s growth with infrastructure like new streets, sidewalks, and drains. Oshawa’s population was recorded in 1852 as 1142, in 1861 as 2002, and in 1871 as 3,185; this represents increases of 75% from 1852 to 1861, and 59% from 1861-1871. By the end of the 1870s, our population grew enough to become a Town, rather than a Village. Population increases means increased infrastructure was needed, and as we can read above, that was certainly happening in the late 1860s with all the new streets being created.
Many of these streets remain core streets within the central core of our community. Louisa, noted above, is no longer named as such, but was realigned with Alice in the 1950s and became Adelaide Avenue. Pine STREET may have been renamed at some point to Hemlock (but there remains a Pine AVENUE south of King, west of Park); and, more research is needed to confirm if Princess was ever a street name in Oshawa, but there still is Prince Street today.
The 1852 and 1861 census information came from the York Herald, 8 Mar 1861, 3; accessed from https://history.rhpl.richmondhill.on.ca/3210658/page/4
The 1871 census information came from the Whitby Chronicle, 7 Dec 1871, 2; accessed from: https://vitacollections.ca/whitbynews/2449812/page/3?q=oshawa&docid=OOI.2449812
Please note, there is a discrepancy between the 1861 population as noted in the York Herald (2002) and the Whitby Chronicle (2009). The difference of seven people does not affect the overall assertion that the population did steadily increase through the decades.